Pentatonic Scale Piano Made Easy

pentatonic scale pianoWould you like to learn more about pentatonic scale piano techniques?

Well, you’ve come to the right place!

In today’s free video lesson you will quickly learn how to incorporate pentatonic scales into your improvisation skill set.

After watching this video your music will sound that much more beautiful. So, be prepared to capture your audience’s attention. Let’s start learning!

Pentatonic Scale Piano: Video Tutorial

To help you grow and master your pentatonic scales, I’ve created a brief video tutorial that will teach you how to build and play this amazingly useful scale.

Getting started is easy. Take 5 minutes and watch this video below.

Once you’ve finished watching this video make sure to read the important tips below. They will also help you grow your pentatonic scale piano skills.

Pentatonic Scale Piano: Tricks and Tips for Mastering!

Let’s following along for a quick review of the key points mentioned in the video tutorial above.

pentatonic scale pianoThe first thing you’re going to want to know is (penta) in pentatonic means 5. This simply establishes that there is going to be 5 notes to a pentatonic scale.

How do you know which 5 notes to use?

To keep things as simple as possible take your standard C Major scale. Broken down it looks like this.

C Major Scale:

(1  2  3  4  5  6  7  1) – (C D E F G A B C)

Now from your standard C major scale remove the 4th and 7th note.

Now, you’re just left with these 5 notes. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th of the scale.

C Major Pentatonic Scale:

(1  2  3  5  6) – (C D E G A)

pentatonic scale pianoUncovering new pentatonic scales is that easy!

Let’s take this same formula and apply it to another key.

Following the same method for turning a C Major scale into a C Major Pentatonic scale try converting the D Major scale.

D Major Scale:

(1  2  3  4  5  6  7  1) – (D E F# G A B C# D)

Now from your standard D major scale remove the 4th and 7th note.

Now, you’re just left with these 5 notes. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th of the scale.

D Major Pentatonic Scale:

(1  2  3  5  6) – (D E F# A B)

And boom. We’ve just changed a D Major scale into a D Major pentatonic. Easy peasy.

You can take this same 5 note formula and apply it to any key.

Now, how do you use pentatonics when you’re soloing over chords or chord progressions?

pentatonic scale pianoPentatonic Scale Piano Harmony

This type of scale can work over lots of different chords in a key. So, it can work as a  great scale for brand new improvisers to play around with.  

In fact, you can solo over tons of different chord progressions using this scale and it will still sound great. Easy is good right?

A good place to start is to practice soloing over the 2-5-1. This is a good progression to start with because It’s the most popular jazz chord progression.

You have to keep in mind that if you’re playing a ii-V-I chord progression in the key of C Major, your solo should be played in C Major pentatonic.

All the notes will sound great even though you’re changing the chords in the left hand (watch the video above to hear how I do it!)

More Chord Progressions You Can Solo Over

Once you master the ii-V-I you can begin to solo over other jazz chord progressions.

For example, you also use the pentatonic to solo over blues chord progressions, rhythm changes, famous standards, Coltrane changes, modal tunes, and many other chord progressions and tunes.

It’s amazing how versatile this scale can be.

Now, chord progressions are one thing but what if you want to use it to solo over real pieces of music?

What Tunes Can You Solo Over?

If you need a list of tunes to practice soloing over you can start with this jazz tune list.

Now you’re really sounding great! Be sure to practice your newly discovered pentatonic scales multiple times a day.

This fun piano scale is just another tool in your bag of jazz improvisation skills!

(By the way, would you like to learn hundreds more jazz improv secrets from 9 different jazz masters? Check out this course here.)

What’s Next For You To Look Forward Too!

pentatonic scale pianoMy goal is to help grow your jazz improvisation skills through learning new and exciting piano scales!

With that goal in mind, the pentatonic scale is just one of many groovy and fun to learn scales available for a hungry jazz pianist such as yourself.

You are highly encouraged to dive deeper into my other video tutorials that explore different piano scales.

You can check out this blues scale lesson, this lesson on the altered scale, and this lesson on the bebop scale.

If you want to practice soloing using the scale you can use this free blues jam track.

pentatonic scale pianoWe also have dozens of amazing pro drum and bass jam tracks that you access 24 hours a day. You can access them inside this program here.

They will really help you improve your rhythm and your soloing. Plus they’re super fun!

Meanwhile enjoy your practice.

Be sure to check in to the site frequently. If you want free lesson in your inbox jump on our email list as well. We release new content regularly.

As always, if you have any questions about today’s lesson please feel free to leave a comment below. I am here to help you!

  • Eric C

    Man you make this scale sound cool! I’ve always heard this type of sound. Now, I know what it is. Thanks!

  • Kyle

    Always interesting to see your choice of chords for your II-V-I-VI progression example. Rootless voicings I presume?

  • Jude

    This scale always reminds me of “someone to watch over me” in the first bar of the refrain. I think you could play the “I-VI-II-V-I Rootless Jazz Chord Progression” taught here in freejazzlessons with the scale . . .

  • baby_grand

    cool, Steve, I’ve been looking for a way into doing improvs, never had the nerve, but this I can work with. PS on playing a transcript I found of Bill Evans’ ‘My Foolish Heart’, I am beginning to see the chords more theoretically now, not just reading the notes. At first that was hard enough! Also, I heard Bill uses the bass player for the root note, while his chords avoid it, the ‘rootless chords’ on the piano. Well, I play alone, so I added the root back at key moments as a single note way down low a couple of octaves here and there, and I think it improves the sound as a solo. Your lessons are taking root, most enjoyable. thank you.

    • Awesome and happy to hear this is giving you a starting point to start build your improv skills. Bill definitely used a lot of rootless voicings in his trio playing. When he was playing solo piano though he would use the full arsenal of voicing possibilities (including roots if he liked!)

  • Great to have discovered your site! You are gifted at teaching and playing. You make it so easy to understand. Thanks so much.

  • Fred Campbell

    Steve, I’m from Jamaica and I wondered if you have ever heard Monty Alexander or Orville Hammond, two of my peers also from Jamaica. Needless to say I think your approach to teaching Jazz is Irie.

    • Hey Fred,
      Thanks for the incredibly kind words. Love Monty Alexander’s playing. Especially his Marley renditions. That’s what I love about jazz. It’s such a malleable art form. So many influences can be brought in.

  • Domenico Casaccia

    hey Steve,
    have you a piano sheet with fingering pentatonics scales in all keys? maj and min?

    • Hi Domenico,

      We do actually have a new course called the Jazz Improvisation Super System that contains an awesome tutorial on using pentatonic scales. I do think that it’s exactly what you need. Go to *www.freejazzlessons.com/improvisation* for more details. Thanks!